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Closing the Sale Is Just the Beginning


Last updated 7/13/2010

Anyone can become a better closer by focusing on what happens after the sale, when the client is ready to take ownership of the newly purchased product or service. This is an area that is TOTALLY ignored by almost everyone in sales, and not just by the sleazy sales types, but even by the more consultative salespeople who go out of their way to focus on building solid relationships!

This lack of execution on the "after sale" has a major impact on closing before the sale. There are very simple steps you can make today to improve your short-term closing and long-term relationships.

Step 1.  Create a "Maximizer Manual" for Everything the Client Buys
A "maximizer manual" goes beyond a mere owner’s manual. It’s a guide to really helping the client maximize the investment. It can be as simple as a one-sheet overview with tips on how to MAXIMIZE whatever it is the client just purchased, as well as some post-buy steps we should set up.

Do you realize that most salespeople don't give their clients ANYTHING after the sale to help them maximize their investment? Now I'm not talking about information about the product (books, brochures, installation guides, etc.)—we usually have plenty of that. And I'm not talking about some helpful verbal tips we may share with the client right before he buys, or as he's taking ownership of the product ("Now make sure you do this . . ." or "Remember, don't let this or that happen . . ."). I'm talking about materials and meetings the client could use and/or attend to maximize their investment. These materials and meetings must be created from the client's perspective, not ours.

This manual can also be delivered with a special gift, a way of saying "welcome to the family." Make the first time buy a big thing, especially if you'd like to form a long-term relationship with this client.

Step 2.  Develop Postsale Check-Up Meetings
Once the sale is completed and clients begin to use your product or service, or are experiencing the benefits of implementing your product or service, they are going to be anxious to see the results. They may also have challenges and problems when using the product, for no matter how simple we feel something is, clients don't always follow all the steps or even open up the owner's manual. So it's important to have scheduled "check-ups" after the date of purchase or closing.

These meetings can be as formal or informal as you feel is necessary and can take place either face-to-face or over the phone. You can also develop several follow-up checklists and surveys to help solicit the type of feedback you need. Even when you sell a service that is basically complete at the point of closing, such as the mortgage business, you can still come up with a post-closing check-up meeting, if for no other reason than to make sure the client was happy with the process and to get feedback on ways you could improve.

An example I like to cite is a small landscaping company I hired years ago to do a few outdoor projects at our home in Colorado. The project, which involved moving some dirt around and creating a small flagstone barbecue area, was just one of several we were "thinking" about doing.

The project proceeded on schedule and tuned out great, but that was it. Once it was done, it was done. In the landscaper's mind, what would he possibly need to discuss with us after his workers finished and packed up? Unless, of course, we have a problem, then he said to give him a call (which is what 90% of the companies consider postbuy service). So he only wanted to hear from me if we had a problem.

What about the rest of our projects we may want to get started over the coming months and years? What about all the referrals we'll have when people come to our home and see our new backyard barbecue area? I don't know about you, but after about two or three weeks, I forgot the company's name that did the project, and certainly couldn't access its phone number.

Now imagine if the landscaper had a few post-buy follow-up meetings. It would be so simple to set up, and could sound like this: "Mr. and Ms. Bennett, what I do that's different from other companies is schedule a few follow-up steps, and one of them is a personal visit in about three months. We survey the project to make sure everything is 100%, and we also apply an additional protective coat of finish on the exposed wood areas near the barbecue." Of course, when he shows up and looks at the project, it's the perfect time to discuss additional projects with us and maybe even collect the names of referrals.

Not only are these postsale steps effective for providing service after the sale, they should be talked about early on, in the pre-sale stages, to help in the closing. We cover this in detail in the next step.

Step 3.  Use Postbuy Events to Close the Sale
All of these follow-up tools and meetings need to be talked about before the sale to help with closing. This sends a clear signal to the client that you're not going to run away, and that in fact the "partnership" is actually just beginning.

Adapted with permission of the publisher from Consultative Closing by Greg Bennett. Copyright 2007, Greg Bennett. Published by AMACOM, a division of American Management Association. For information about other AMACOM books, visit http://www.amanet.org/books